What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs, and associated almost exclusively with exposure to asbestos. Just one asbestos fibre is thought to be enough to cause the disease.
It can take many years after a person’s initial exposure to asbestos fibres to develop mesothelioma, anything from 10 to 50 years in fact. As a result, it isn’t necessarily easy for people with mesothelioma to know for sure exactly where they were exposed to the harmful material.
However, our Industrial Disease Solicitors are specialists in mesothelioma compensation claims and can investigate the potential source of your exposure even if those potential exposures occurred many years ago and even where your past employer(s) has long gone out of business. In this situation, the company’s insurance companies can usually be traced, which means we can make asbestos claims against them. Even where the employer has gone out of business and the insurer cannot be traced, it can still be possible to make a government scheme claim.
It’s often not possible to show what the exact source of the asbestos exposure was that caused a person’s mesothelioma. However, it’s necessary to prove this, as the law only requires that a person can show that they were exposed to asbestos on the balance of probabilities and that exposure materially increased their risk of developing mesothelioma.
Who is Likely to Get Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is more common amongst people who have lived and worked in areas with a strong industrial past, as asbestos was heavily used in industries such as ship building and manufacturing. In fact, official figures clearly show that the highest incidences of mesothelioma cases in the UK are in areas with a strong history of ship building, including Barrow-in-Furness, Plymouth, Portsmouth, South Tyneside and West Dunbartonshire.
As many people in these areas were employed in the same industries where asbestos was prevalent, a larger number had the chance to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work, and have indeed been diagnosed with mesothelioma years after the event.
A similar pattern has been seen in areas close to or containing railway engineering sites, such as Crewe, Nantwich and Eastleigh.
Individuals who have worked in asbestos product manufacturing industries are also at a higher risk of developing the condition. Again, many mesothelioma cases have been seen in places which used to have factories that made asbestos products, such as Barking, Dagenham and Newham.
Who Else Can Develop Mesothelioma?
A growing number of cases have involved people who have had far less intense exposure to asbestos throughout their working life. For instance, people who have worked in the building industry, including demolition workers, electricians, plumbers and carpenters, all of which may have had many opportunities to be exposed to asbestos fibres.
Our Industrial Disease Solicitors have also seen many cases involving people who have simply worked in buildings which contain asbestos materials in their fabric and have been present when asbestos has been disturbed. This can mean that many people who may be at risk of developing mesothelioma aren’t actually aware that they’ve been exposed to asbestos.
Can I Get Mesothelioma if a Relative Worked in these Industries?
Yes. A person who was heavily exposed to asbestos at work could potentially bring traces of asbestos fibres or dust back home, possibly on their clothing or footwear. That means if these items of clothing were handled, perhaps when they were being washed by other family members, they too could also have come into contact with the asbestos.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and aren’t sure when and where you might have been exposed to asbestos, get in touch with our Industrial Disease Solicitors for a free consultation.
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